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27 May 2011

One Woman’s Path to Citizenship: Bangladesh to the United States

As an employee of the United Nations, Nashmeen’s father Mohammed had settled the family in Japan, Iran, and Sudan. While in Khartoum, her parents sent her to India to attend boarding school. A native of Bangladesh, she had spent her early years traveling the world and experiencing different cultures. While a young teenager, her mother applied for the Green Card Diversity Visa. To the surprise of all, they received a thick envelope confirming they would be granted a Green Card to live in the United States.

For Nashmeen, the Green Card presented her the opportunity to pursue her education in the United States. She felt fortunate that she had received this chance, knowing that some friends had filled out applications for student visas without success.

Nashmeen with her parents and husband Faraz

Above: Nashmeen with her parents and husband Faraz

By the time she arrived in the United States, Nashmeen had met many Americans and studied from American books. Still, she had to learn to live on her own at her university in Boston and didn’t always understand the local humor or why nickels were larger than dimes. Despite those small changes, she found Americans to be welcoming and the transition to be an easy one.

After graduating, Nashmeen knew that she wanted to stay in America, find work and spend the rest of her life in this country. The next logical step was to become a U.S. citizen and to embrace both its benefits and responsibilities. Nashmeen’s brother had already become a citizen, and now it was her turn. A college friend helped her apply and prepare for the naturalization test and interview.

Nashmeen did have one apprehension as she moved forward. In the wake of 9-11, she was nervous that being Muslim might have some adverse impact on her application. By coincidence, the USCIS officer interviewing her was also Muslim. As the test progressed, she realized that to become a citizen, she would be judged on her knowledge or civics, English and U.S. history, not on her religion, race or country of origin.

Nashmeen passed the test and took the Oath of Allegiance with great pride. Today she is married and living and working happily in the United States. Both her father and mother also became citizens of the United States. In this month that we commemorate Asian heritage, Nashmeen and her family’s journey to citizenship reminds us of the journeys of millions of Asian-Americans who have come to the United States in search of greater opportunity.

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25 May 2011

Introducing: The Citizenship Public Education and Awareness Initiative

Today USCIS announced the Citizenship Public Education and Awareness Initiative. This initiative seeks to promote awareness on:
  • The rights and responsibilities of United States citizenship.
  • Free naturalization preparation resources available to both aspiring citizens and immigrant-serving organizations.
USCIS will employ digital media, a video public service announcement, and print and radio messages in a variety of languages.

Posters for the Citizenship Public Education and Awareness Initiative

You can view a new public service announcement for the initiative below.

Advertisements will run through September 5, 2011, in the first phase of a planned multiyear effort. USCIS will also increase in-person naturalization outreach efforts to bolster the initiative.

To learn more about the Citizenship Public Education and Awareness Initiative and how organizations can support the effort, visit www.uscis.gov/citizenshipawareness.

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19 May 2011

The EB-5 Program: Creating Jobs in America

As many of you know, we at USCIS are reviewing our policies and practices to ensure our careful and thoughtful administration of our nation’s immigration laws. A hallmark of our review is our engagement with you; your ideas and comments inform our decisions as we strive to implement the best ideas.

Through our review, your input and other analysis, we have identified needed improvements to a wide array of policies and practices. Some of these improvements have been implemented and many are to follow. We look forward to your feedback as we make continued progress on these improvements.

As part of our broad review, and echoing President Obama’s call to promote immigrants’ entrepreneurial spirit, we have focused on the Immigrant Investor Program, commonly referred to as the EB-5 Program. It is a program designed to attract investors and entrepreneurs from around the world to create jobs in America. In the two decades since its creation, the EB-5 Program has never met the annual cap of 10,000 visas. 

The EB-5 Program often involves complex applications and sophisticated business projects that require prompt attention and expert review in order to achieve their potential. Our focus on this program, and the input you have provided, has led us to propose a series of significant improvements to it. These changes include an accelerated adjudications process, with premium processing; the creation of specialized intake teams to handle the Form I-924 applications, coupled with the applicants’ ability to communicate directly with the specialized intake teams via email; and, the creation of an expert Decision Board to render decisions on the Form I-924 applications and to afford applicants with an in-person or telephonic interview to resolve issues.

Our proposal for the improvement of the EB-5 Program is available here. In keeping with our commitment to soliciting your ideas and input, we have posted the proposal for public comment. We will accept your comments at opefeedback@uscis.dhs.gov for 20 business days, until June 17, 2011.

We recognize the importance of the EB-5 Program and its goal of creating jobs. We recognize the importance of all of our policies and practices in realizing the goals of our nation’s immigration system. Thank you for working with us in service of those goals.

Alejandro N. Mayorkas
Director

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16 May 2011

Now Available: USCIS Releases Expanded Civics and Citizenship Toolkit

USCIS offers the Civics and Citizenship Toolkit to community organizations that assist immigrants aspiring to become U.S. citizens. The toolkit provides educational materials that focus on both naturalization and civics.

Today, USCIS is releasing an expanded edition of the toolkit, which now includes:

  • A start-up guide for organizations who want to expand ESL, civics, and citizenship education
  • Suggestions on how to use the toolkit in your community
  • A short film about the naturalization process and test
  • Civics Flash Cards, multimedia study tools, and much more

One free toolkit is available to immigrant-serving organizations. You can find a list of eligible organizations on our registration page. Interested individuals or organizations that do not qualify to receive a free toolkit may purchase a copy from the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) Online Bookstore.

For additional citizenship information and educational materials, be sure to visit the Citizenship Resource Center.

Please let us know what you think about the new toolkit in our comments section.

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13 May 2011

Introducing I-9 Central

When it comes to searches on our USCIS website, no single item is more sought after than the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. That’s no surprise, since 7.5 million employers in the United States use Form I-9 every time they hire an employee.

In an effort to make information on this critical form more accessible, USCIS just launched a new online resource center known as “I-9 Central.” This center will consist of Web pages designed to give employers and employees easy access to resources, tips and guidance they need to successfully complete the form. 

For more, please visit the new site, and let us know what you think in our comments section.

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12 May 2011

Director Mayorkas Discusses Citizenship Programs with German Federal Minister of the Interior Friedrich

In the tradition of partnership with the Federal Republic of Germany, Director Mayorkas met recently with German Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr. Hans-Peter Friedrich, to discuss efforts to integrate immigrants and new citizens.

Director Mayorkas and Minister Friedrich
Director Mayorkas and Minister Friedrich

The Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, which provides support for local citizenship preparation services, was a central topic of discussion. The Director and Minister Friedrich discussed challenges faced by both nations in better integrating new citizens, and agreed that effective integration efforts are vital to both nations. Minister Friedrich viewed the Grant Program as evidence of the importance of local efforts to promote integration, pointing out that successful efforts could not simply be decreed from "Washington or Berlin."

The meeting concluded with Director Mayorkas presenting Minister Friedrich a bound copy of "The Citizen’s Almanac," a book provided to new citizens upon naturalization.

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06 May 2011

Do You Want to Become a US Citizen? USCIS Can Help You With the Process

Are you or someone you know wondering what is required to become a US citizen? Are you considering naturalization? If you are, you should know that USCIS has a wealth of resources to guide you through the process.

Are You Eligible?

First, you will need to determine if you are eligible to apply for citizenship. USCIS offers a Naturalization Requirements information sheet that explains the requirements for citizenship and a Naturalization Eligibility Worksheet.

It is important that you confirm your eligibility before you apply, as USCIS will not refund your application and biometric fees if your application is denied.

Applying

Once you’ve determined you are eligible to apply, you will need to complete and file a Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

To guide you as you apply, USCIS provides a short “How Do I?” guide on how to apply for citizenship and a more extensive Guide to Naturalization.

Be sure to read the form instructions and completely fill out and sign your form before you mail it. USCIS also offers filing tips to help you avoid common mistakes.

Preparing for the Interview and Test

The USCIS Citizenship Resource Center provides a wide variety of materials to help you prepare for the interview and naturalization test including study materials for both the English and civics portions of the test.

In addition, USCIS has posted a YouTube video about the interview and test:



Oath Ceremony

If you are approved, you will either have the opportunity to participate in an oath ceremony the same day or you will be scheduled for an oath ceremony at a later time.

We hope these resources are helpful. Please feel free to share any comments on your experience and how we can improve the process.

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